Al Mawakeb School is a private, K-12 school (4 to 18 years of age) located in Al Barsha, Dubai. The school is one of three campuses located in Dubai (the others based in Al Khawaneej and Garhoud) managed by Academia Management Solution International (AMSI).
Al Mawakeb, the Barsha school was established in 1997 (considerably newer than the Garhoud branch) but, considerably older than the third school in Al Khawaneej (established in 2018) and currently has approximately 3,150 students from a range of backgrounds and nationalities, but one in five come from Emirati families. The largest nationality group is described by the KHDA as Arab.
The school employs 190 teachers, mainly of Lebanese nationality, together with a further 8 teaching assistants. Staff turnover in the last academic year was 22% - in line with the average staff turnover in Dubai of 20-22% per annum, but it is clearly advantageous to a school to minimise this churn. With a staff:student ratio of 1:17, demands on staff are relatively high. The Principal is now an established leader having joined Al Mawakeb Al Barsha in August 2017. According to information received by WhichSchoolAdvisor.com teachers must come from either Syria or Lebanon, as they have to be fluent in Arabic, English and French.
Students study a modified US curriculum based on the California State Common Core standards, combined with the Ministry of Education Islamic Education and Arabic curricula. The school is accredited by NEASC - the New England Association of Schools and Colleges - a requirement for all US curriculum schools in Dubai, which ensures the standards of the curriculum and recognition of the High School Diploma - in the USA and internationally - issued by the school to graduating students. From Grade 5 boys and girls are separated.
In line with the school's Levant influence, kindergarten students are taught through the medium of French with English and Arabic as additional lessons. From Elementary onwards, the curriculum is delivered in English with French and Arabic as separate subjects.
The school uses MAPS testing on an ongoing basis for internal assessment purposes and also offers a range of Advance Placement courses for students wishing to attend university in the USA.
At the time of the last KHDA inspection in 2019-20, some 106 students had been identified as Students of Determination. The report notes that "Comprehensive policies reflect the school's inclusive approach to care and support. Processes to identify students of determination and those who are gifted or talented are well-developed." The provision and outcomes for students of Determination was rated as Good.
What about the Facilities?
School facilities at Al Mawakeb include a library, science and computer labs, art workshops and a school clinic. The school is located on sprawling site and its buildings are deemed to be "well maintained and provide a suitable environment for learning" according to the KHDA. In addition the school also is a recognized SAT exam center for students who wish to enter college.
The school offers regular physical education classes, including out of school hours training for basketball, volleyball, track and field, table tennis and football. The school also organizes and annual ski trip abroad, and has a wide array of clubs - from Robotics to Drama, from Computer club to Piano.
What the inspectors say
The most recent KHDA report for 2019-20, based on the inspection which took place in January 2020, rated the school as Good for the fifth year in a row, following seven years of being rated Acceptable.
Whilst the overall rating had not changed, there had been a small number of improved ratings across key performance criteria. Most notable among these was the improvement to Outstanding for KG students' Personal Development - meaning that this standard is now rated Outstanding across the school.
However, Student Achievement, Teaching and Assessment and the Curriculum all remain rated largely Good, and until the latter two standards improve, it is unlikely that an overall improvement in Student Achievement - or indeed in the overall rating for the school - will be possible.
The school's key strengths, recognised by the KHDA, were noted as:
The main recommendations from the KHDA inspection team relate to the governance (and investment), management and leadership of the school. Al Makaweb Al Barsha should:
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
Feedback to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com's Parent Survey has been very limited, and is not especially positive with a score of 1.9/5 or a positivity rating of 38%. As is often the case, it is less happy parents who tend share their opinions rather than those who are largely satisfied with the school.
We have been told that that class sizes can be high - up to 30 per class. The Primary section is taught like the High school, with specialist teachers for specific subjects such as Science, Maths and Arabic - not the norm is most curricula or schools where a 'home room' teacher tends to be the main point of contact for younger students with an occasional language, arts or PE teacher providing specialist support.
Parents also say that the school employs a 'stick and carrot' approach to teaching which can work for some children, but is not the most modern of educational practices. Children are also subject to regular test or 'quizzes', similar to the Choueifat model. Some parents have told WhichSchoolAdvisor.com that this is not necessarily the most creative environment for children.
If you are a parent, teacher or Senior student al Al Mawakeb School Al Barsha, please share your opinions and experience with other potential members of your community and take our Survey here.
School fees for 2022-23 are mid range, beginning at AED 14,540 per year at KG, rising to AED 23,570 for Grade 12. However, in Grade 12 for example, parents will need to reckon a further +/- AED 17,000 to cover the cost of books, a laptop, school uniform and extra-curricular activities.
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